November 18, 2021

CINEMA | Coaching 'King Richard' – Will Smith Knows Best

"Ain't nothing she can't do."
Saniyya Sidney Will Smith Reinaldo Marcus Green | King Richard
Warner Bros. Pictures / Westbrook Studios
There's nothing like an inspirational sports drama based on a true story to warm your heart. Aging superstar Will Smith turns on the charm and charisma for his soulful portrayal of Richard Williams, the outspoken father/coach of tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams (also executive producers), in the heartwarming King Richard.

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, we follow the childhoods of the famous African-American sisters, played very capably by Saniyya Sidney (Venus) and Demi Singleton (Serena), growing up in Compton before breaking into professional women's tennis as teenagers and changing sports forever. Aunjanue Ellis and Jon Bernthal both shine as Richard's equally hard-working mother and the girls' eager tennis coach as they round out a fine cast.

Screenwriter Zach Baylin compresses the necessary timeline and action into a brisk script that covers enough while leaving on a fitting note without trying to tell every part of the sisters and their family's stories. Anchored by Smith's detailed performance, we learn how their experiences and history bonded the close-knit family together while acknowledging their flaws, uncertain paths, and fear of failure.

It really is Smith's embodiment of the towering yet notorious public figure that grounds so much of King Richard's unbelievable true story about family and sports. Green's tempered but steady direction lets his actors and the inherent drama speak for themselves while balancing the best traits of a conventional studio sports biopic.


More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / Polygon

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